The art of hiring – the 2 biggest pittfals
Struggling with CV’s (struggle no 1)
To be honest: I have always been struggling a bit with CV’s. A CV, to me personally, doesn’t mean that much. What exactly does it tell me? That the person went to school. Okay. Nothing about important things such as: was he/she motivated? Was he/she enthusiastic? Helpful? Looking for a group or an einzelgänger? Then we go to another education: the professional one. Sometimes with the CV comes the list with grades. Very nice to know that someone had high grades for a certain study. 15 years ago… Sorry, it just doesn’t mean anything to me. For me it’s much more important how someone deals with setbacks or with a colleague with a very different communication style. How someone deals with big orders, with chaos, with silent moments. Those much more important things aren’t on their CV. The CV shows me what they did, but on a very superficial level.
Ploughing through a pile of CV’s is not really my favourite activity. Therefore, I like motivation letters much better. In that letter, someone can show a bit more who they are, what makes them tick and why they want to make the next step in their lives, career wise.
Although I saw (for example on LinkedIn) and heard quite some discussions about why no one should place a photograph or their date of birth on the CV, I think it is also a part of who the applicant is. Even when you don’t say your age, once you will be invited for an interview, I would see whether you are 24 or 50, right? No one has to be a model, but having a picture makes a whole lot of difference. When I see a picture, I see a human being, instead of the sum of education and experience.
Choosing who to interview (struggle no 2)
After reading letters, taking a glance at the CV, trying to imagine what kind of person would be behind the writing, I make a decision and select maximum 6 people to invite for an interview.
This is also not very easy. Everyone’s letter I put aside makes me think: “If I would see this person I might think different”. But the reality is that I just can’t invite everyone (especially not when there are many applicants). So, I need to choose. I write a letter back to everyone I didn’t select and save their information (you never know what the future will bring).
Interviewing (and here you will find the pitfalls)
Now there’s a plan. An agenda, with meetings planned for the different interviews. Questions to be asked are written down as a guideline and for the rest it’s going with the flow during the conversation. It’s really true that sometimes the moment you see someone and you shake hands, you already know: “this is a match/this is no match”. Is that judging a book by its cover? I don’t think so, we look unconsciously at so much more than just appearance; we get a feeling: a gut feeling.
The first pitfall I want to mention is: rationalizing your gut feeling.
Once I hired someone, even though my gut feeling said: “no, this is not the right person for the job, for your team”. I just knew it. I only started to rationalize. “What reason do I really have not to hire this person?” He is recommended by some people that I know and trust”, “Let’s give this person a chance, how could I decide based on 2 talks of 30 minutes?”, and so on. Of course, and that’s an easy guess: my gut feeling was right and nothing else.
The second pitfall: solving problems that are not yours.
If you are a company owner or having a big responsibility in your job, you will probably have a great problem-solving skill. Issues that are complicated for other people might be an opportunity for you. Problems people see and they don’t have a solution for: you think twice and have 5 ideas for solving them. This is probably one of the reasons you could start your own company or have a responsible job; whatever will happen, you will find a way through it.
During the interview the applicant states things like:
– I have a young kid, I need to bring to school before work starts. (You immediately start thinking: “no problem, you can start later”, “no problem, you can work from home”, “no problem, I’ll arrange pre-school childcare”, etc).
– I can’t drive in the dark (Again, lots of solutions come into your mind; from a different schedule during the summer and the winter to adjusted working times and everything in between).
– I have no car. (You think: “Okay, you can start later, because with public transport you’ll be travelling much longer”. Or: “I’ll lease/buy/rent a car for you”. Or: “You work from home and only twice a week you come to the office”).
And so on.
The problem (that you really need to solve here) is: that you try to solve other people’s problems.
– Most probably you aren’t hiring the right person for the job, if you are the one that will be needed when there will be problems to solve.
– Most probably the people you hire this way aren’t the right persons for the job, because they like the fact that you made their lives easy and it wasn’t so much the content of their work that would make them tick.
The art of hiring.
Before the interview:
– Be relaxed and focussed.
– Know what you want.
– Be prepared.
– Don’t make a quick decision: there are many people looking for a job. It is in no one’s interest if you would hire someone quickly because you need someone now, while it’s not the right person for the job or in the team.
During the interview:
– Create a good atmosphere: it’s not a law case;
– Ask a lot of questions that start with ‘how’ and ‘why’;
– Listen carefully to the answers;
– Look at the person you’re interviewing as a whole: body language, wordings, attitude.
After the interview:
– Write down the first impression;
– Interview all the candidates;
– Sleep at least one night, but better: two;
– Plan, if you want, a second round with maximum 2 candidates;
– Make a decision and use the first weeks of trial period to finalize this decision (and don’t ignore your gut feeling).
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